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Private airplane pilot helps St. George police with pursuit

(FILE - Photo courtesy St. George Police Department)
(FILE - Photo courtesy St. George Police Department)
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A private airplane pilot who happened to be flying above a vehicle pursuit called dispatchers after seeing an officer get stuck on a dirt road and lose the suspect in the dust in Washington County.

The suspect caught the attention of a St. George police officer just after midnight Sunday at the intersection of Black Ridge Drive and Bluff Street.

In a probable cause statement, the officer said the Volkswagen Beetle was stopped at the same intersection, and “accelerated heavily,” causing the tires to lose traction and squeal.

The officer saw the suspect, identified as Colton Richmond, 23, drive erratically onto southbound Interstate 15.

A pursuit began after the vehicle exited the interstate about two miles later at the Brigham Road exit.

When the officer turned his police lights on to attempt a traffic stop, he said Richmond slowed as if he was pulling over, and then made an abrupt U-turn.

“During that U-turn I watched as the adult male driver, later positively identified as Colton Richmond, looked at me directly in the eyes,” he said.

The officer stated the vehicle would continuously drive into the oncoming traffic lane and fluctuate driving speeds.

As the pursuit continued, he noted a woman passenger looking back through the car’s rear window.

Emergency dispatchers said the woman called them, saying children were also in the vehicle and that she was scared Richmond would not pull over.

The pursuit then moved onto Navajo Drive – a dirt road – where dust impaired the officer’s visibility, and his vehicle became stuck.

A citizen flying a private airplane called dispatch and informed authorities that he had been following the pursuit by air. Around that time, the suspect began to flee on foot, officials stated.

The officer contacted the woman, who was still in the suspect vehicle, and learned that there were no children present.

She stated that during the pursuit, Richmond hit her in the face when she attempted to pull the emergency brake.

The woman said he also held a knife to her throat and told her to “call the cops and get them to stop pursing,” which was when she said she lied to authorities that children were with them.

Richmond was found after multiple agencies searched the area, the officer said.

The woman told police she was getting a ride from Richmond to Cedar City. Her identity was not released.

Police said they found many syringes filled with what they suspected was heroine on the floor of Richmond’s car.

Officers said they learned Richmond had one active no bail warrant issued by the board of pardons and multiple drug convictions since 2014, which he was charged for.

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He was also arrested on charges of reckless driving, driving on a denied driver’s license, failing to stop or respond at command of police, interfering an emergency call, aggravated kidnapping, possession of drug paraphernalia, threatening the passenger with a weapon, and physically assaulting her.

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